Overall, The Cowabunga Collection is a near-perfect representation of what a fan wants out of the package. 13 great games, an incredible amount of bonus content, and adding optional enhancements make The Cowabunga Collection well worth the $39.99 asking price.
Other than a few hiccups I’ve encountered, I am loving my time in the game. Even if the car physics aren’t the best, they are nowhere near unmanageable. Flying around the world in helicopters, drifting cars, and weaving in between traffic is just as satisfying as ever. Gunplay is tight, and if you’re the type to pull the aim trigger and have it lock on, you’re going to love the way this plays too. The writing is corny, but in the right kind of corny, I can respect. Doing all there is to do in Santo Ileso will keep me hopping back into this world more and more. Now excuse me as I wrap this big ass gold chain around my neck and get back to my criminal empire. The Saints are back, baby.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge tickled all my nostalgia keys, and it harkened back to the feeling I got when playing with my turtle action figures in my younger days. Days I would hop between battling toys to turning on my NES to play the TMNT Arcade game with my brother. Even with the license’s low points over the years, Shredder’s Revenge feels like a proper revitalization of a series I’ve grown up loving. So to answer my early question, yes, a modernized 2D brawler in the classic TMNT arcade style can revitalize these four heroes; I just love being a turtle!
Salt and Sacrifice is a worthwhile sequel to Salt and Sanctuary. Where it does more of the same, it does so where it needs to and where it freshens things up, like the map change, it does it well. I still wish I had access to an inworld map, though. If you’re looking for a new souls-like to get into after something like an Elden Ring, I can’t see you going wrong with this one.
Rogue Legacy 2 has entangled me in its grind. It has cracked that code in me where others often get it wrong. Thanks to the randomness of the heroes, the ability to carry over progression, and the fun combat, I have that urge to keep playing. Rogue Legacy 2 will easily sit in my top games of this year and possibly be one of the most fun times I’ve had this year.
Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires is an excellent addition to the warriors series. The strategy aspect is fun to engage with and can get quite addicting as your game progresses. I found myself saying, “ok, just one more month of decisions to make; then I’ll save and quit.” only to do another round of strategic decisions. That same brand of fun and fast-paced Warriors combat kept things exciting during battles, and when you combine both gameplays, you can easily put away hours upon hours into it.
I have been having a ball with this game; the new combat has made things much more fluid and exciting, the in-game puzzles are still easy yet thought-inducing, and the excellent new upgrade system and unlocks got me itching to dive back into the game to unlock more and more. The Skywalker Saga was first announced in 2019 and has had a delay or two to get to this point, including an unfortunate crunch cycle that the devs have had to deal with. But those delays have paid off. The developers at TT Games have crafted a top-tier LEGO title full of polish and one that has gotten its hooks in me all over again.
Even though Grapple Dog is just one 2D platformer in a sea of them, I believe this can be your one diamond in the rough. It’s a game that feels responsive and is relatively easy for anyone to pick up and play. It isn’t a cakewalk, though, and you will find challenges ahead, but at the same time, you’re going to soak up the bright colors and the fun story, placing this near the top of your lists.
All-in-all, I had a blast with Pupperazi; it has a welcoming and fun charm to it, it’s creative, and it asks you to be creative. It’s only $20 so it’s well worth the price to admission, in fact on Xbox it’ll be a part of Gamepass so if you’re a subscriber, there’s no reason not to get your paws wet and dive right in. It’s cliché to say, but Pupperazi is the very essence of “fun for the whole family.” Now, shoot for the moon and em-bark on your own Pupperazi adventure!
Epic Chef’s writing is quite funny, and because of that and its fun cooking gameplay, I’m willing to wave off any serious issues I have with it. Does it mean it’s a perfect experience though, no. But I enjoyed my time with it and think it’s a great game to hop into, especially if you’re into the crafting, farming, or cooking genres.
Overall, the game is quite fun, but the game feels very light with minimal narrative and dating-sim aspects. The bowling is good enough to have you play for a few matches or with other people, but the bowling fun only takes it so far. With that said, at $9.99 it hits that perfect sweet spot where even though it feels light, you’re not breaking the bank. I mean, it’s cheaper than bowling alley pizza and will leave you feeling more satisfied.
The Jackbox Party Pack 8 is a heck of a bundle and honestly one of the strongest they’ve had as a package; it is the most consistent pack Jackbox Games Inc. has created yet. There are hours of fun and hilarity to be had with Party Pack 8, and this game gives no reason why it can’t be in your library of games.
If you’re looking for something chill to play in between the stressful first-person shooters this holiday season, you can’t go wrong with this calm puzzle game, one that doesn’t overstay its welcome either, lasting only a few hours max. At the end of the day, Unpacking unpacks, a captivating story through its use of the stuff we collect in our lives.
It’s hard to recommend NASCAR 21: Ignition in its current form. A $60 price tag doesn’t feel justified for the lack of features in this package. There is hope, though, as the racing is still quite good, the graphics look stunning, and the overall fun of being on track is there. But as with every NASCAR release over the years, that can only take you so far. If there was ever a year to skip a NASCAR title, it’s this one. I do look forward to NASCAR 22 in the hope that Motorsport Games nails it. After seeing and feeling what they provided for racing this year, it’s obvious they have talent over there; it just needs to be a more complete package.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is up there as one of the best experiences I’ve had all year. I compare this to the excellent Marvel’s Spider-Man, and he’s my all-time favorite character! A title I hold in high regard. Don’t hold out for these heroes; you’ll want this one in your collection.
Pumpkin Jack is a fun little experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. For 29.99, it’s not a bad deal and something the young ones in your family could easily enjoy in repeated sessions. The combat is fun, the puzzles are engaging, and the story has that charming storybook feel. If you enjoy 3D Platformers, this isn’t a bad one to give a download.
Overall, I had a blast with Gas Station Simulator. You get that feeling of running a gas station, especially early on when it’s just you rushing between the pumps and register. The mini-games peppered throughout the game don’t make running the place feel like work. Well, except for picking up the trash and cleaning. I maybe forgot to mention that part. I assigned my employee to do that anyway, so no skin off my back. That aside, the game hits its mark; it says what it is in the title. I feel this one is up there in the pantheon of its genre and if you were to ask me what good simulator games should you try? I’ll tell you: Car Mechanic, House Flipper, Power Washer, and now, Gas Station.
Delivering mail and driving around familiar streets helped set that relaxing tone. The unique interactions between Meredith and the other characters in Providence Oaks gave me the right motivation to play through and invest me in her tale. Lake isn't just a game about delivering mail; Lake is about reconnecting, and it was quite enjoyable to guide Meredith to a life she will enjoy.